My blog guest this week is fellow Choc Lit author Margaret James. I’ve just re-read that sentence, as I was reading and enjoying Margaret‘s books long before I ever dreamed that I could be a Choc Lit author too!!!
I asked Margaret to tell us about herself:-
I’m a British writer of historical and contemporary fiction. I’m also a journalist working for the UK’s Writing Magazine and I teach creative writing for the London School of Journalism. I was born in Hereford, but now I live in Devon, which is great because it means when I am stuck for a plot I can always go for a walk along one of our gorgeous beaches and be inspired!
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today. It’s lovely to be here chatting about writing with you.
I’ve been a writer for quite a long time: since 1988, in fact, when my first novel A Touch of Earth was published. Over the years, I’ve had a variety of jobs, got married and had children, but I’ve always managed to fit writing into my schedule, although sometimes I’m not sure how!
I write about the kinds of women I admire – women who are courageous in many ways, physically, morally and emotionally. I’m not very brave myself. But, strangely enough, my two daughters are amazingly courageous. They’re both devoted to extreme sports and they both have very demanding careers.
When I’m planning a new story I talk to my characters all the time, asking them questions and sometimes even arguing with them. I realise that saying things like this makes me sound completely mad, but I’m also sure plenty of other novelists would agree with me. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make up stories about people who don’t really exist. But this means that even when I’m by myself I’m never alone, and I’m never lonely, so that has to be a plus, doesn’t it?
The cover of Girl in Red Velvet was designed by the wonderful Berni Stevens. My heroine Lily looks exactly as I had imagined, so I am delighted. I haven’t owned a red dress myself since I was a teenager like Lily, when I had a pretty raspberry-red mini-dress I made myself: like Lily, at that age I made most of my own clothes. I wouldn’t buy a red dress now because, unlike Lily who has jet black hair, I’m fair-haired and fair-skinned. So red all over would be rather overpowering on me. But I do own red tops, red shoes and a red coat. I like a bit of red here and there!
The inspiration for this novel was the set-up in Wuthering Heights, which has always been one of my favourite reads. I don’t warm to any of the central characters, but the story situation involving these three people – Edgar Linton, Catherine Earnshaw and the ghastly but charismatic Heathcliff – is endlessly fascinating. I wanted to see if I could write a story in which there would be hopeful resolutions for my own threesome.
Girl in Red Velvet is a romantic drama. The action starts in the 1960s, and writing this novel involved a fascinating trip down Memory Lane for me.
The story is set in Oxford, and when it begins it’s 1966 and Lily Denham is seventeen, all set to begin her studies at Oxford University. On her first day she meets best friends Harry Gale and Max Farley and is enchanted by their mischievous charm.
But Lily soon realises she is falling in love with both her new-found friends, men who might offer Lily two very different futures. Harry is generous and kind, hardworking and ambitious: he would probably make a dream husband. Max embodies the spirit of the sixties, being adventurous, rebellious, madly attractive but a little bit dangerous, too.
Does Lily want a dream husband or does she want a life of adventure? Perhaps she could have both? But maybe making the wrong decision might have devastating consequences for them all?
Thank you, Margaret. I found this interview fascinating as I like to understand the inspiration and thought processes of other authors. Girl in Red Velvet is next on my reading pile and now I can’t wait to start it.
To contact Margaret:-
Facebook : www.facebook.com/margaret.james.5268
Twitter : www.twitter.com/majanovelist